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Steps That Take One to Allah

Once somebody has established their faith in Islam and accepted Allah and His Rasul, the angels, the books, all of the Rasuls and Nabis, the judgment day, that he will give account and be resurrected… what are the steps he should be taking, how should he progress?

Some divide this process of spiritual evolution into seven, some into three, and some into four stages.

The seven stages are:

Nafs-i Ammarah – The Inciting Self.

Nafs-i Lawwama – The Self-Accusing Self.

Nafs-i Mulhima – The Inspired Self.

Nafs-i Mutmainna – The Peaceful Self.

Nafs-i Radhiya – The Pleased Self.

Nafs-i Mardhiya – The Pleasing Self.

Nafs-i Safiya – The Pure Self.

Those four stages include only:

Nafs-i Ammarah – The Inciting Self.

Nafs-i Lawwama – The Self-Accusing Self.

Nafs-i Mulhima – The Inspired Self.

Nafs-i Mutmainna – The Peaceful Self.

And the three stages include only:

Nafs-i Lawwama – The Self-Accusing Self.

Nafs-i Mulhima – The Inspired Self.

Nafs-i Mutmainna – The Peaceful Self.

The last group does not include the Inciting Self. The Inciting Self is the self that is constantly demanding. Who is demanding? The One behind the apparent ‘self’ which is the Rabb. Hence one who is at the level of the inciting self is subject to the demands of his Rabb, that is, his composition.

I have explained in previous chapters that the self is created from the level of rububiyyah, as it is comprised of the divine names. In this respect the demanding self exists within every being, whether it be a human or an animal. In this light some see it as the default stage and don’t consider as a stage within the levels of spiritual evolution.

The next stage, the self-accusing, or ‘loathing’ self is named after the root word “lawm” which refers to the guilt and shame that is felt when one realizes his inadequacy as a servant in the sight of Allah. This is where one recognizes his faults and admits his shortcomings and accuses and loathes himself. 

If this state prolongs, and the person begins to engage in certain practices and realizes certain realities, he may begin to receive inspirations. These inspirations will help him to realize that he does not have an independent separate existence, that he is comprised of the names of Allah and his existence is totally dependent on Allah. He will witness that essentially nothing exists other than Allah, including himself. This state is called the “The Inspired Self.”

However, there is a very fine point here… 

When one comes to this realization he may easily fall into the pit of thinking, “I don’t exist, only Allah does and Allah does as He wills! He is not limited by anything. Therefore, I don’t have to perform salat, or fast, I can do as I like and I will not be held accountable for it!” This thinking is the natural consequence of the Inspired Self.

It is generally those with an imitative faith that fall into this dangerous abyss!

If the person follows a master (sheikh) and accepts this as part of his master’s teachings and recommendations, this acceptance is not ‘recognition’. For when one really recognizes that the essence of all is only Allah, he will no longer see a master to follow, if he does then he hasn’t fully recognized Allah!

But he may recognize this and with this consciousness still follow his master, this is acceptable. But in the absolute sense, one cannot follow or be tied to ‘another’ when he becomes conscious of the oneness of Allah.

As a result of these inspirations if he goes into further research, he will see that the divine names that comprise him are in the form of a composition, that is, the reality that ‘he is the One’, is in respect to the fact that he is comprised of the names of the One, and these names bring about the meanings and actions that manifest through him.

However, the names are not in the form of a composition with Allah, they are present with Him in the absolute sense; unconstrained!

If he can observe this, Allah will have opened the way to the Peaceful Self.


When he sees his essence is composed of a composition of divine names, he will also see that he does not have the ability to use these names as he likes or when he likes, or in the way that he would like to. He will realize that he lacks the ability to manifest and administer the names, and that on the contrary, the names have control over him! 

With this realization he will accept that even though in essence he is the One, he still needs to comply with the divine laws and orders. He must take heed of the teachings of the Rasul of Allah (saw) who has relayed the divine orders. In this light he will see that the level of Uluhiyyah encompasses both the names and the acts (the plane of manifestation) and hence only the One to whom these names belong has the absolute power to manifest them as He likes.

Whereas the names manifest through him, without his control. Hence, he will see that he is a composition of names - a program- and his disposition, character, temperament etc. are formed because of this composition.

He will see that only through complying with the divine laws and the teachings of the Rasul of Allah (saw) he may be able to overcome the limitations of his compositional make-up and unite with Allah. 

After this he will totally commit himself to the recommendations of the Rasul (saw). 

When he was under the command of his emotions and natural tendencies his guide was his Rabb, the names that comprise his make-up. But now his guide will become Allah!

This is the beginning of the process of becoming moralized with the morals of Allah!

When one begins to adopt the morals of Allah he reaches the state of the “Peaceful Self”; he becomes certain of the existence of Allah. 

The following levels, Nafs-i Radhiya – The Pleased Self, Nafs-i Mardhiya – The Pleasing Self and Nafs-i Safiya – The Pure Self are attained because of this certainty, according to some scholars, they are not separate states. 

The consciousness at the level of the Inciting self, is different to that at the level of the Inspired and Peaceful Self. But after the Pleasing Self, primarily there is no difference.

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